If you are following the Paleo Diet, Atkins, South Beach, Wheat Belly, or any other low carb regime, read no further, this isn’t for you.

French fries are prototypical for things that taste wonderful, yet must be consumed only occasionally and in modest quantities. As a result, I rarely eat them; perhaps twice a year at a good restaurant that makes them from scratch. Another dozen times a year I make a good sized batch in the oven, following a technique that I have researched and perfected over the years: Toss them in a tbsp of oil, dust with smoked paprica and salt, place them on a wire rack, and bake for about 40 minutes. The result is just OK, but enough to take the edge off the craving.

My wife, a far more reasonable and intuitive person than I, takes a more “natural” approach: If they’re worth having, they’re worth having done to perfection and in the classical manner, eaten very rarely but with full gusto.

A few years ago, I read the reviews for a French product called the Actifry, made by T-Fal. It sounded intriguing: Make perfect fries with only one tablespoon of oil for a large batch. While the reviews were pretty good, the price was insane; some $350 for a one-trick pony that also took up a massive piece of countertop real-estate. While I was willing to accomodate the latter, my price-point was under $200. Over the years I saw it on sale for $279, $249, and as low as $239 earlier this year at Costco. But last week, to my amazement, the latest high-capacity model (2.6 lbs.) was on sale for $188 at Costco. Bingo! I bought one and brought it home.

The Actifry does take up a lot of counter space. On the other hand, it’s very light and can be moved around and even stored below-counter if you absolutely must. It cleans very easily and all components are dishwasher safe. It also comes with a beautifully done cookbook replete with recipes for all kinds of meals that can be made in the machine. None of this matters however, if it doesn’t make great fries.

Well, the verdict is in: This thing makes amazing french fries as well as variants on the potato theme; I particularly like the turnip fries and the sweet-potato fries. The recipe book is somewhat redundant: There’s no reason to cook chillies and stir-fries in an Actify; they are made far more easily and in larger quantities in the traditional stovetop method.

A 2.6 lb. batch of fries (enough for 4 people) is ready in about 35 minutes, using only 1 Tbsp. of oil. They are firm, crisp, golden, and very tasty. Potatoes are very healthful (unless you’re diabetic of course), and are loaded with fiber. They make a great accent to almost any meal, and the Actifry takes out all the guilt. Best of all, enjoying something wonderful is an essential part of eating sensually and with satisfaction rather than dutifully and morosely.

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